[MUD-Dev] Re: Crafting Money

Derek Licciardi kressilac at insightBB.com
Fri Jan 3 01:15:29 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

From: eric leaf


> I did some design and coding on these subjects a few months back
> for a personal project. The defining design goal was that
> everything was player created, if it existed and didn't grow or
> wasn't part of the planet (mineral resources) then a player made
> it. So, as happened in our history, things like apples or iron
> would become currency long before something like gold.  And far
> more likely that adventures would get payment in food and housing
> for defending the town from orcs, than beating down orcs and
> picking up their loot. Where the only loot the orcs may have was
> taken from other towns (You find a wooden rattle, and a rusty
> pitch fork.), they don't for instance come equipped with studded
> leather and a brand new shortsword.

> Another topic that I looked at was that you need local communities
> with variable resources and "real" commerce. Real commerce is in
> part dependant on local communities. If in 5 minutes time I can
> buy 50 diamonds in X territory where they are common, and sell
> them in Y territory where they are rare, within an hour that
> resource is based only on its global rarity, and the merchant
> trade just becomes a boring shipment route, even if just 5 minutes
> long.  In other words, you simply don't have local communities
> unless you have real distance in your world. And you can get real
> distance two ways (perferably both), either real distance, or
> costly travels. Spices and silk from the orient were only really
> valuable because of what it cost to actually travel there and
> bring them back. Nowadays its more a question of production and
> labor, but thats in an industrial society.

> If its all player created then it will be balanced by the players,
> no blacksmith will live in a hamlet unless he can support his
> trade, so the wandering adventurer will have to bring a spare, or
> hoof it back to the nearest city and pay a local price for the
> sword.

> There are some other issues with in-game organizations, for
> instance you wouldn't see any real minting processes unless there
> was some stable organization in an area. So to see minting you
> would need to allow those sort of organizations and, to allow that
> you would have to allow players to exert power on others
> (something rarely seen). If I couldn't burn down your house and
> destroy your crops, then there is no way for a despot to take over
> a region and evict you. But if I can do the above, then there must
> be means to deter that behavior, castles, forces for good
> etc. Think real political forces in the game, with territory and
> country lines. A possible scenario is that orcs have been raiding
> a farmer village, an opertunistic player can decide to offer them
> protection for some payment, such as 2 pigs and a horse! These is
> basically a simplified adventure, of the sort you play all the
> time in D&D.

"Local communities" is something that is directly counterproductive
to the player's belief that they paid for the box, therefore they
have the right to see everything.  Something will have to be done
about this belief to be successful with a local community based
design.  Also, if you establish local communities you must get rid
of teleportation entirely or make it so dangerous that its a gimped
magic anyway.  Teleportation is like the Internet, it makes
communities global nearly instantaneously.  Players will whine and
complain to no end that they cannot get to all of the parts of the
game.  The key to an implementation like this might be to provide
sufficient content in their immediate surroundings.  The only way
we've seen local communities so far is ala DAoC where the boundaries
and travel restrictions are arbitrary and developer decided upon.
There's definately room for innovative designs here IMHO.

Real politics and player run kingdoms are a ways off.  It'll be
interesting to see if any of the games that are "tacking-on"
player-housing or player-cities will be able to achieve anything
with their designs in the coming year.  I fear all we will realize
is that if you're going to do player-driven anything then you have
to do it completely or you'll end up frustrating players with
varying degrees of in-game freedom.  Sure you can own a house but
you can't defend it any other way than these two tactics because our
combat system isn't properly integrated with the housing defense
system.  Sure you can put NPC vendors you've hired in your store but
when the store's attacked they'll just stand there and never notify
you because the AI isn't smart enough to know better.  Oh another
player attacked your house?  That's a legal form of griefing because
we forgot to integrate the PvP system into that area of the game so
there is no way to hold the griefer responsible for his actions.
Small groups of people are slowly damaging but not destroying your
city's buildings and you can't keep up the repair maintenance, sorry
there is no advanced grouping mechanism for your citizens to
organize into to fend off these would be griefers.  Armies were cut
from the final design because we needed to make money.  Needless to
say the success of many player-driven content MMOs in development
will be interesting to watch as a designer.

Can it be done, I think so.  AoA is being developed towards this
type of goal but our design is not combat-centric.  Our design is
more of a simulation and not quite as combat-action/loot/level
oriented.  I'm hoping that TSO shows publishers that there can be
financial success in a game that features little/less/no combat.  If
so, its feasible that a game could be created where the political
ramifications of a group could be enough to deter violence and the
game still get picked up by a publisher.(Advanced social play; join
your own Tom Clancy novel.)  So far there isn't a publisher on the
planet that has been interested in this type of game and gone public
with that interest, probably because of the multitude of unanswered
question that lie in the design and the added risk those answers
bring.  Its not unlike the risk associated with UO prior to its
release.  No one knew how well UO would do.  When you start too far
down the path of player-driven content I believe that the basis from
which all current MMOs have been designed(EQ/UO) is simply not
adequate.  I don't believe that player-driven cities is something
that can just be tacked onto a combat-centric MMO.  You are right
though, very interesting and complex topic.  I, personally, can't
wait for the day where a 3D, non EQ derivitave MMO comes out on the
market.  I'm hoping we're the first to do it.  Look at every game
today and because all that publishers are interested in are
combat-centric games, this topic remains simply a topic.  Here's to
hoping that will change sometime soon.


ps Of all the big games, UO had the best first crack at this in my
opinion.  The design simply wasn't grand enough, though at the time
the risk was high as it was and one could not expect the gameplay to
be this advanced.  Honestly EQs wild success probably set the genre
back a couple of years as far as this type of design is concerned.
Imagine what we would have today if UO was 3D and UO was the most
financially successful MMO from the first generation.  I think
development projects would be decidedly different in their

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